Surveillance Video and Your Case

Last year a brutal videotape of Ray Rice punching his then fiancée in a casino elevator surfaced to the public. Many questions arose as to whether the NFL saw the tape before the public did. The conclusion being that if the NFL did see the tape before the public saw the tape, then it goofed up by not punishing Ray Rice worse than it did until the video was released for public consumption and outrage. Theories abounded as to whether the NFL had seen the tape, though an investigation later found that the NFL had not seen the tape.

Even so, I will examine the likelihood that the NFL could have gotten the tape by looking at the concept of “surveillance footage” generally. I will then talk about that topic in the context of your personal injury case.

Preserving Surveillance Footage

Often times in a personal injury lawsuit, there can be a surveillance video of the incident. Whether it was a slip-and-fall, an auto accident, or an intentional tort, there may be footage of the incident if it is in a public place. This footage can help improve the strength of your case.

It is to your benefit to seek an attorney early on in the process to make sure this footage is preserved. We have talked about the importance of involving an attorney early in the process on this blog on many occasions – this is another reason why you should do so. Most surveillance cameras have digital storage which will write over the storage already on the hard drive after a certain period of time.

An attorney can get access to surveillance footage legally, by issuing a subpoena. Additionally, because destruction of evidence is illegal, an attorney can leverage a holder of surveillance tape outside of the legal process. A cynic would suspect (sometimes it happens) that the surveillance tape can mysteriously go missing if it is the defendant’s tape; this is why you need to get an attorney involved early to make sure the evidence you need for your case is preserved.

In the case of Ray Rice, a casino probably has more cameras per square foot than Fort Knox. The prosecutors in Ray Rice’s criminal case got ahold of the tape. There is some question as to whether the NFL could have gotten a hold of the tape. On one side of the coin, the casino did not have to produce the tape to the NFL because they are a third party in this instance, they had not filed a lawsuit, and the tape is the property of the casino, but on the other side of that same coin, there is really no reason why the casino would not give the tape to the NFL – they had nothing to lose as they were not a defendant and were not likely to become a defendant in the lawsuit. The casino stood to lose next to nothing in releasing the footage to the NFL. In the end, it seems the casino chose to not release it to the NFL.

Groth Law Firm Can Help

If you or someone you love was inured in a public place, please call our firm so we can help. We can investigate to see if any surveillance footage exists and work to preserve it. Call us today for assistance at (414) 455-6981.